You can read my latest feature, entitled "Downton Abbey: How PBS Got Cool," in which Fernandez and I talk to Rebecca Eaton, RuPaul, PBS SoCal, WNET, and PBS executives, and The Soup producer Matthew Carney, among others.
Patton Oswalt obsessively live tweets it from his weekly viewing parties. Katy Perry is using it to distract herself from her marital woes. Roger Ebert has stepped outside the movie realm to praise it in his blog. Saturday Night Live spoofed it. Mob Wives star Big Ang Raiola recited favorite quips for Us Weekly. The Onion equated watching one episode with reading a book. And Wednesday night The Soup will celebrate it with a special parody starring RuPaul and drag queens Raven and Shangela.
Could all of this fuss really be about a PBS show? Quite right. Masterpiece's Emmy- and Golden Globe–winning hit, Downton Abbey, created by Julian Fellowes, a TV ratings success and cultural phenomenon, has catapulted the public-television broadcaster with the stodgy reputation to the cool kids' table.
“We don’t know how to handle that over here,” said Mel Rogers, CEO and president of PBS SoCal, the PBS member station that serves greater Los Angeles. "We got accidentally popular.”
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